The DJI Mini 3 is a great drone system. I do, however, have a prop to spin with DJI, as they’ve been asking a lot out of their consumers lately.
Case in point, releasing the Mavic 3 basically unfinished, with a promise that they would take care of it later. Thankfully they did. That was a big ask though. DJI you only get so many of those!
Many if not all of the issues we’ve been seeing with the DJI Mini 3 appears to be firmware related.
At least, the bug fixes we’ve been seeing by the way of Firmware updates have been fixing the issues.
The Mini 3 hardware is solid and it’s a good build.
No GoPro Karmas here, remember those?
Now programming an aircraft system such as this is no easy task, and it is expected that there may be a bug or two that further consumer use may reveal.
There are also going to be times when what was supposed to fix one bug actually, creates another as we’ve seen recently.
I have complete confidence that all the glitches will be worked out in time. The question is how long.
1. Range Issues
This is an issue that has many new Mini 3 owners really questioning their Mini 3 purchase. As a new system, it’s going to have a few bugs that need working out, we all know that.
Having a range issue though shouldn’t be one of them.
The DJI Mini 3 is a very capable drone. However, shoving all of those features and abilities into that small frame?
We’re going to learn things on the fly, as we recently saw with the DJI Mavic 3 being released with the promise more was to come later through firmware updates.
We accepted that and DJI made good on that promise. With any luck, this issue is indeed only in the firmware as opposed to the hardware.
The latest update seems to have resolved it for most pilots out there. Be sure to have the latest update, and it should resolve any range issues.
Let’s see if we can figure out what happened.
When we discuss range, we’re talking about two things really. First is the transmission range and then would be the battery range.
Seeing as this issue isn’t with the battery, we’ll focus on the transmission range. Now, there also seems to be a difference between the N1-C1 controller and the Pro Controller.
Most accounts of issues come from those who have the Pro Controller, and it is thought that the built-in antenna is really at fault. That would seem to indicate a hardware problem, but let’s hope it’s not.
Transmission Range is the distance the aircraft can travel from the base station and remain in contact with the aircraft.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro uses DJI’s proprietary transmission protocol called Ocusync 3.0 which in design theoretically has a range of 12 km or 7.5 miles, provided there is no interference and no obstacles.
Now, due to one’s location on this spinning watery orb circling that giant fireball in the sky, you may have some regional limitations. Your aircraft will come with a certification from the governmental party responsible for radio communications.
In the USA we have the FCC or the Federal Communications Commission. In the European countries, it would be the CE or Conformitè Europëenne, you get the idea.
Here in the States, we don’t have any limits placed upon the transmission range as shown below.
FCC: If your drone is marked FCC, that means it is designed to be used in the United States, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Chile, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and other regions that follow FCC certification.
CE: If your drone is marked CE, that means it is designed to be used in the UK, Russia, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Macau, New Zealand, UAE, and other regions that follow CE certification.
MIC: This certification is for use within Japan only.
SRRC: This certification is for use within Mainland China.
|Certification Type||Max Allowed Range|
|FCC||7.5 miles / 12 km|
|CE||5 miles / 8 km|
|SRRC||5 miles / 8 km|
|MIC||5 miles / 8 km|
Now, what could affect that range? After all, DJI is fairly clear stating “Provided there is no interference and no obstacles.”
As a seasoned drone pilot, you would probably like to know where that may be. As per DJI, here is how the effective range is reduced in different environments.
Urban areas – strong interference, limited line of sight = 1.5 – 3 km
Suburban areas – medium interference, open line of sight = 3 – 7 km
Rural areas – very low interference, open line of sight = 7 – 12 km
So it’s known that certain areas will have different effects on your transmission signal.
In urban areas where there are a lot of cell towers, homes and offices, WiFi, and other competing and interfering signals, the range can be considerably reduced by any of these.
The range is further reduced if you are flying from behind obstacles like skyscrapers and towers where you have no direct line of sight between the controller and the aircraft.
We can see that even though there can be many factors that can affect your transmission signal, and by proxy, your range, the current, and hopefully resolved issue of range with the Mini 3 seems to be unfinished firmware or corrupted firmware.
Now, that’s not to say that DJI is at fault for anything here. We do ask a lot out of these little drones and the programming is quite mindboggling. One of the other updates may be the culprit.
The fact is we now have a new firmware update that seems to have resolved the problem, which some smart pilots out there found to be because of the way the controller and aircraft switch between 2.4ghz and 5.8ghz.
2. Quick Transfer Issues
This is another issue that wasn’t present at release, from what I can tell but has come up since one of the latest firmware updates.
The Quick Transfer was a big selling point for the DJI Mini 3 so it’s important to get this squared away soon. This is an issue that as of yet, DJI has not commented on.
Much like the range issue, they probably won’t. They’ll just work to fix the issue and release a firmware update quietly.
The problem as reported is affecting both iPhone and Android devices and would seem to be something the most recent firmware update caused, so a fix should be quick to come.
Once again, I should point out that when it comes to the coding and programming for these devices, there is more than a lot involved.
One piece, just one tiny minuscule piece of code can make a whole system non-operational. Luckily for us, someone has discovered a workaround it seems.
A Reddit user brought up disabling the cellular signal on your device (phone, tablet) before attempting Quick Transfer.
As Quick Transfer works through your device’s Bluetooth system this does actually seem to work for most pilots.
Here again, we have a recent firmware update that appears to have resolved this issue.
With any drone system, be it the Mini 3, the Mavic 3, Autel’s Lite, or Evo, it is important that you keep up to date with the firmware, especially so when that system is new.
It’s no secret that new systems will receive more updates than older ones as the coding is new, and bugs will be found quickly and hopefully remedied as quickly as found.
If you’re still having this problem, make sure your firmware is the most recent version available.
3. Issues with Maps
Here’s one that’s huge, just huge, and really has me spinning my props, just spinning. Where are the maps?
I know I’m not alone here, as there were rumbles in the ether webs. This one seems to have been more of a flub by DJI with their last update than anything else and has been quietly resolved as of this writing.
One of the new features introduced recently automatically disables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It would appear that this was set to be the default setting. By blocking Wi-Fi automatically, the app wasn’t given enough time to find and download the maps.
As I had this issue come up myself over the 4th of July weekend, it was a bit of a hindrance. Luckily, I found the solution in the field, and my flight wasn’t hampered by it. The solution was similar to the Quick Transfer above, just reversed.
In this case, you want to enable the Wi-Fi until the Fly App has a chance to completely load, maps and all. You can then disable Wi-Fi again prior to the flight.
The reason for the change was that with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off you should have a better transmission signal. This of course makes sense as the phone or tablet wouldn’t be sending out or receiving signals that may interfere with the controller’s signal, so not the worst idea.
Of course, that’s not a needed fix any further as it looks like that correction in the programming has already been resolved with a firmware update already.
DJI is a great company, but not a perfect company. Like every other manufacturer out there they have their eyes on the prize, as they say. That prize is profit.
With any new drone system, whether it’s the big guy on the block like DJI or one of their competitors like Autel we’re going to see some issues in a product like this shortly after a release.
It happens with every one of these systems and as drone pilots, we know that. We do after all really put these systems through the mill once we get them, now don’t we, doing things that DJI never thought of with them.
Though I’m not a programmer, I do know enough about it to know I could never be one. How those guys and gals do that day in and day out. Sheesh, no I’m a drone pilot. I like to be free, outside, soaring through the air.
Thankfully, nothing we’ve seen so far would appear to be an actual issue with the hardware. So, any of you DJI Mini 3 owners out there, it’s a good solid platform great for beginners and pros alike.
As to the firmware, it’s a bit buggy at the moment. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but yeah, a bit buggy.
We can also see that even though DJI doesn’t directly respond to these sorts of things, although it would be nice, they do work on the problem in the background and quickly try to resolve them.
I guess we can all slow our props down a bit and be patient. 🙂
We did after all just have that massive update recently and we all knew there may be some changes needed with it. What we’re seeing is nothing more than the ripple effect of it.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!